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Sesame Street cred

For a couple of weeks, Evan was in love with this Sesame Street video where Usher does the ABCs, and that got me thinking about other celebrities who’ve appeared on the show. I knew Katy Perry had done it, and I knew there were a lot of others.

So I did some digging.

The sheer number and variety of famous people who have been on the show is staggering — and just seeing a list of names doesn’t quite convey it. So I took a little time and went the visual route.

Every single actor below has been on Sesame Street at least once. This isn’t even close to a complete list — it’s just a sample. Enjoy.

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Doing the alphabet

Evan: I?

Me: I is for “Ides of March.”

Betsy: (shaking her head) Brian …

Evan: J?

Me: J is for Julius Caesar, who was killed on the Ides of March.

Betsy: Brian.

Evan: K?

Me: K is for “killed,” which is what happened to Julius Caesar on the Ide —

Betsy: Brian!

Meteor!

I saw a meteor last night — a really long, bright one, very cool to watch. I went out around 10 p.m. for the Perseid shower and waited five or ten minutes, and didn’t see anything, till that one flashed overhead really quick — less than half a second. I called that Mission Accomplished and went back inside.

What have you seen in the sky lately?

Twinkling and/or shining

Lately, as part of Evan’s bedtime routine, I’ve been singing him a couple of short songs before he goes to sleep. It was Betsy’s idea — she started doing it first, and it seems to be working. Pretty often, the songs are “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “You Are My Sunshine,” in that order.

It was only yesterday that I realized something: the end of the first song asks a question (implicitly), and the beginning of the second song answers it correctly. Check it out:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.

And then:

You are my sunshine …

What is a star? It’s just a sun that’s further away.

This is especially cool because it’s a science-y question and a science-y answer, featuring knowledge that’s relatively new on the grand timeline of astronomical inquiry. (I don’t think the ancient Greeks would have agreed that the sun is a star.)

I’ll tell Evan when he’s older.

Have a good weekend!

Nooo outlet!

Evan

Outlet safety is not a joke.

Evan’s been obsessed with electrical outlets for a long time. “Outlet” (“ow-leh”) was one of his first words — I’m not kidding.

But lately we’ve been reading a book that shows, among other things, a baby looking at an outlet and the word “No!”

So now, every time he sees one, he shakes his head and says “No … outlet.” He looks at me and adds gravely, “No way. No … outlet!” His expression is like Daddy, are you getting this? Serious business. (In the photo above he’s actually saying something different, but it’s close enough.)

Electrical safety has become an area of major concern in our household, especially in the two-and-under demographic.

Of course, after delivering this dire counsel, he then goes over and touches them anyway. But you can’t expect miracles.

Politics as meteorology

News outlets have struggled with how to report on a president who constantly says things that are foolish, childish, dangerous, and false. Are the old ways of writing news stories still adequate?

Occasionally I’ll hear a suggestion that the news should stop covering Trump’s statements entirely, or else relegate them to minor headlines. I understand that desire, but I don’t think it’s the right path. Ordinary celebrities may fade to obscurity if we ignore them, but that tactic doesn’t work on somebody who controls the executive branch of the US government. We need to know what Trump is saying, not because it’s good or sane or true, but because it has consequences for our nation.

I was pondering all this today, and I had an idea.

In the Trump era, report on politics like you report on the weather.

Hurricanes are big, slow, mindless, and dangerous, but we don’t ignore them. Instead …

  • We gather as much data as we can.
  • We keep track of where they’ve been and try to predict where they’re headed.
  • We record the damage they’ve caused and we rate their destructive power on a scale.
  • We issue warnings and advise ordinary people in the storm’s path about how to prepare or rebuild.
  • We promote the groups who work to limit the destruction and save lives.
  • Afterward, we figure out what we’ve learned and how we can do better when the next storm hits.

What would such a news story look like?

Maybe something like this.


Level 4 Press Conference Event rains down hazardous disinformation — caution advised

WASHINGTON — Another Press Conference Event manifested in the nation’s capital yesterday, pelting an already weary population with further truth distortions, narcissism, and chaos. Although the Event was localized in Washington and emanated directly from the Chief Executive, its effects will be felt throughout the nation, and likely around the world.

As usual with such occurrences, experts say it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what triggered this disaster, but the underlying cause is the same as with other recent events: an unstable and underdeveloped Executive operating at the center of a high-pressure system. The Governmental Disaster Relief Organization (GDRO) is categorizing this event as Level 4, recognizing it as both destructive and needless.

Links to a video and full transcript of the event will be posted here shortly. But readers are urged to use extreme caution when viewing such material, as it may damage the retinas or optic nerves. This event in particular contains 9 objectively false statements, 16 misleading or questionable statements, 3 false equivalences, 28 non sequiturs, and 45 separate instances of gratuitous self-aggrandizement. If possible, do not read more than 3 to 4 consecutive paragraphs without taking a break. Remember to stay hydrated.

For maximum protection, citizens should stay informed, remain open to dialogue, and exercise the rights of speech, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances guaranteed by Amendment 1. Where possible, read the Constitution before engaging in debate. To help mitigate the damage in your area, contact your representatives in Congress.

You can also donate to relief organizations such as ProPublica, which deliver badly needed fact supplies in areas of the country hardest hit by the truth drought.

Above all, remember that such disasters are largely preventable. In November of both 2018 and 2020 the government will open the question of whether to reduce the frequency and intensity of such events, or continue them unabated. Your opinion is welcome. A simple majority will suffice.

Haiku of Summer

Back in 2015, at my mom’s suggestion, I wrote 365 haiku for 365 days, and she did the same. (Here’s January.)

This time, she suggested the same challenge, but just for the summer (June 21 – September 22).

Here’s the first of a planned three months of summer haiku. This time, unlike before, I tried to include some element from the human world and something from the natural world in every poem. I’m  happy with how most of them have turned out so far.

#1 — 6/21/18
Beneath my sandals
tree roots live, deeper than graves
and more numerous.

#2 — 6/22/18
Morning sky is here,
covered in paper-gray clouds,
yet to be unwrapped.

#3 — 6/23/18
Early afternoon;
wary rabbit sees my son
watching her; a breeze.

#4 — 6/24/18
Small rapid footsteps,
long grass, furnace takes a break.
Essence of summer.

#5 — 6/25/18
My mind, strong old ox,
plows in all seasons. Great ox,
you are slow today.

#6 — 6/27/18
Soft warmth, morning dark.
Child on my lap gulps his milk.
Windows shake with rain.

#7 — 6/27/18
Bleak day. Grumpy thoughts.
Grass embraces blade and storm;
I fight, I retreat.

#8 — 6/28/18
Pain is a dark dog —
faithful, persistent, hungry.
He knows just one trick.

#9 — 6/30/18
Fresh-cut bell peppers
crowd the tray. Carrots, mushrooms.
Noon sky burns the deck.

#10 — 6/30/18
Three children sleeping.
Intermission: adult sounds
emerge like rabbits.

#11 — 7/1/18
Heels in kiddie pool.
Day is heavy with slow heat.
Still the robins sing.

#12 — 7/3/18
Jaw aches and buzzes,
still half-numb after dentist.
Tree limbs sway and shine.

#13 — 7/3/18
Parcels of nature,
bounded by curbs, sidewalks, boards,
wriggle past their lines.

#14 — 7/4/18
Early July sun
washes trucks and apple trees
in its boundless bath.

#15 — 7/5/18
Headache, pain in back:
small complaints. Gentle weather,
coffee, peaceful heart.

#16 — 7/6/18
Hour before sunrise.
Stars fade — ghosts of yesterday,
omens of today.

#17 — 7/8/18
Sun sinks, quiet house.
What will the clouds do all night
while I sleep below?

#18 — 7/8/18
Hearts, like rivers, grow
polluted, and are only
cleaned by flowing on.

#19 — 7/9/18
Sun sinks, quiet house.
Busy brain searches and sorts
and sorts and searches.

#20 — 7/10/18
Quick fireflies at dusk
weave and rise among shadows,
crossing my window.

#21 — 7/11/18
Too much time inside.
Sunlight through glass panes is like
a roarless lion.

#22 — 7/13/18
Bristling with needles,
green backyard-monster keeps watch,
nodding at my roof.

#23 — 7/13/18
Apple’s leafy nest
stretches skyward, lifting it
above the white fence.

#24 — 7/16/18
Sidewalk-chalk jungle:
loops and letters on driveway
know nothing of rain.

#25 — 7/16/18
Bird crosses my path
as I drive, reddish brown blur
on secret errand.

#26 — 7/16/18
Trash bags by the curb
recline like early pumpkins,
ready for harvest.

#27 — 7/17/18
Crowds of dandelions,
bald, lanky, uninvited,
gather and survive.

#28 — 7/19/18
Gladness of being
waves hello like an old friend
or a flowing tide.

#29 — 7/19/18
Washing machine sings —
strange bird, flightless and hungry,
loyal to its mate.

#30 — 7/20/18
Rain comes round again,
gentle and taking its time,
darkening the street.

#31 — 7/23/18
Deer sits placidly
on a low hill near daycare.
Evan waves to it.

#32 — 7/23/18
Magic of morning
gives each room fresh potential
nestled in shadow.

#33 — 7/23/18
Where is happiness?
Which limb, on what tree, offers
this elusive fruit?